20 March, 2012

Review - Wizard and Glass (Dark Tower IV) by Stephen King

In a sentence: Stephen King does Tombstone (the movie) to great effect.

With only about 25% of actual series plot development (or 500 pages sandwiched between plot development), you'd think I would hate this book. Had I not known about this beforehand or had I waited 6 years for more Dark Tower, I'd probably be singing a different tune.

Then again, I love me a western and to call them Gunslingers on top of it all (such a cool word), I'm pretty sure I would have loved Wizard and Glass [US] [UK] [Kindle] no matter what.

After quickly resolving the cliffhanger at the end of The Wastelands (my review), Roland Deschain proceeds to tell his story that he has obviously been needing to tell for quite a while. I honestly thought we wouldn't have a resolution to that particular scene until much later in the book with the flashback in the middle of that. I'm very glad my expectations were wrong.

Roland, at only 14 years old, is sent to Mejis with his two good friends Mat and Perrin... I mean Cuthbert and Alain. I couldn't help but draw the comparison to the Wheel of Time as it's pretty close, but also vastly different.

In book one, The Gunslinger (my review), we found out that Roland became the youngest gunslinger ever at the age of 14 and Roland's flashback picks up immediately after.

As far as the people of Mejis know, these youths were in fact truant youngsters who were sent on a mission to count. That's right, count everything from fish nets to horses. In reality, they are sent there to get them out of harm's way, but what they find instead is a group not dissimilar to The Cowboys from the movie Tombstone named the Big Coffin Hunters.

At this point in the history of Mid-World, the Affiliation is the governing body, to which Roland and his friends belong, but which is facing the growing problem with the Good Man, who's inciting rebellion among other things.

Innocuous mission turns dangerous, sweet. But that's not all you get, you'll also find one of the best love stories you've ever read. More you say? There's suspense, tragedy, gunslinging, and one of the most amazing scenes I've ever read involving the best stand-off you'll ever find anywhere.

Regarding the famous (or infamous) Wizard of Oz elements **Spoiler** I thought this worked extremely well. The Dark Tower is all about drawing comparisons between this world and the world of The Dark Tower. It's just the right amount of dreaminess that fits so perfectly with this world and made the smooth transition back to Mid-World. **End Spoiler**

If King wants to tell the rest of this series through flashbacks, I'm on-board. I really hope to hear more about Cuthbert and Alain and if not both, then at least Cuthbert. Can he please join the new Ka-tet? Pretty please?

While I didn't quite know what to expect, but knowing at least that there was a lengthy flashback, the more I think about it, Wizard and Glass is my favorite volume in The Dark Tower so far. The flashback story is amazing and ratchets this series up in scope and epicness, giving method behind the madness.

If you haven't read The Dark Tower series, you're in for a treat. What? I'm the last person to do so? Well, I love it. I don't reread books much, but I will definitely do so once I'm done. This series is epic and tragic in every sense of each word. You will not regret it.

5 out of 5 Stars

Ps. Did I mention there's gunslinging?

The Dark Tower Series - Reviewed
  1. The Gunslinger
  2. The Drawing of the Three
  3. The Waste Lands


logankstewart said...

Great review. I, too, loved the flashback aspect of this book, and I'm glad some of Roland's backstory has been expounded in the Marvel graphic novels. Do you plan on reading those?

Unknown said...

This was a major stumbling block for me in the series. After the events of the first 3 books, I wasn't ready for the extended flashback. Also, with this being the first volume to really get 'meta' in referencing pop culture, the Wizard of Oz elements completely pulled me out of the story.

I have a much stronger appreciation for it looking back, but I'd still like to revisit it some day with wiser eyes.

Ryan said...

I'm with Bob on this one.

I wasn't ready for the extended flashback either, and was upset that King completely abandoned the main story line for a flashback. It wasn't until I'd read a couple more books in the series that I realized how crucial this volume is to the overall story arc.

Now that I've read them all, (The Wind in the Keyhole pending...) It is one of my favorite books in the series.

Bryce L. said...

@logan - I do now. :D I didn't realize they did that and all I can think about now is knowing more about his backstory.

@Bob - I'm sure it would have been a far different experience if I didn't have the benefit of having the completed series, but I probably had too much heads up. I even knew about the Oz elements before.

For the story's sake, it's quite the tale in its own right.

Joseph Finley said...

Thanks for the great review! This is probably among my top 2 favorite books in The Dark Tower series. This is Roland's backstory as a young man (as opposed to the coming-of-age backstory in The Gunslinger). And it contains the tragic event that helps forge him into the person he is. For that reason, I think it's one of the most essential books in the series.

I've reviewed The Drawing of the Three on my own blog (http://fresh-scrapedvellum.blogspot.com/2011/12/long-journeys-part-iii-dark-descents.html). But it looks like you've gone the distance with the series. I look forward to reading the rest!

Rebecca Enzor said...

"I really hope to hear more about Cuthbert and Alain and if not both, then at least Cuthbert. Can he please join the new Ka-tet? Pretty please?"

Yes! I agree! More Cuthbert! ;)

WaG was by far my favorite of the series (probably due to Cuthbert, who I adore) and I read it once a year. Great review!

Bryce L. said...

@Joseph - I think I'll be reading Wind through the Keyhole before I get to the rest, but thanks for the link. Glad you're enjoying them too.

@Rebecca - I'm so glad you feel the same! There's a big something to the fact that you're sad to leave characters/friends behind. King's amazing at that.

Unknown said...

Which is the first book